Several countries in Europe are for the first time "moving backwards" on their policies over equality and laws in the LGBT community, a new report has found.
The report, conducted by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) in Europe, found that regression was specifically seen in countries revoking existing laws and policies.
An example provided was in Bulgaria, where the means for trans-people to change their names or gender markers in official documents has been removed.
In Serbia and Kosovo, the governments have failed to renew action plans on gender equality, the report said.
Hungary and Turkey had also regressed, with the latter doing so since 2015, due to each governments' "failure to uphold fundamental civil and political rights".
"Sadly, this year, we see concrete evidence of roll-back at political and legislative levels in a growing number of countries," ILGA-Europe’s executive director, Evelyne Paradis, said.
"In the current increasingly polarised social and political climate, laws and policies are often the last lines of defence for LGBTI communities."
The Europe-wide rankings show a particularly dim view for LGBT communities in parts of eastern Europe.
Azerbaijan ranked the worst country in Europe for LGBT equality policies and laws, with Turkey and Armenia scoring second and third last respectively.
On the other end of the scale, Malta ranked in first place for the fourth consecutive year and was followed by Belgium and Luxembourg.
Micah Grzywnowicz, the co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s executive board, said effective LGBT equality laws and policies were "crucial" for society as well as the hot topic of marriage equality.
"The countries that are expanding their legislative horizons to embrace this vision of equality for LGBTI people are the ones moving ahead," she said.
"We are heartened to continue to see examples of governments demonstrating leadership in this direction, as Luxembourg and Finland did over the past year."